Once in a while an album grabs me by the throat from the first notes. In such a case I want to listen to the entire album in one listen without any interruption whatsoever! This happened to me when I started to listen to Falling Asleep, the debut album recorded by the German band Ter'Azur, consisting of Ian Alexander Griffiths (guitar, lead vocals), Marcel Kohn (keyboards, vocals), Christopher Streidt (bass, vocals) and Stephan Schöpe (drums, percussion, vocals).
Falling Asleep showed that we're dealing with very talented musicians, who master their instruments in order to create an excellent concept album about the relationship between mankind and nature. This concept also deals with the story of oil tycoon Richard Taggart and denounces politics, society, and military actions. The music for this concept has been composed by all band members; the lyrics were written by Ian Alexander Griffiths. Throughout the album you can hear soundscapes from people like the former president George W. Bush. By doing so the music gets more tension and it substantiates the concept. Music wise the album contains a succession of one highlight after the other. On their website the band stated to blend the progressive roots of the seventies with modern hard rock, interlarded with vocal harmonies and narrations. However, I think they have been particularly influenced by bands like Pink Floyd, Sylvan, RPWL and Dream Theater.
The influences of Dream Theater are not that strange, because the band already received critical acclaim with 'Awake, A Tribute To Dream Theater.' From time to time, the superb keyboard, guitar and drum parts strongly tend in the direction of these American pioneers of prog metal. However, Ian Alexander Griffiths knows how to play a melodic guitar solo in the vein of David Gilmour (Pink Floyd) or Kalle Wallner (RPWL). This provides the album a lot of variety. Sometimes you'll hear certain prog metal or had rock elements for instance in Mass Hypnosis and Five Bagger. At other times you're entering the world of real progressive rock in songs like Falling Asleep, Exoplanet and Beneath The Molten Sand. It's hard to mention highlights since in my opinion the entire album is one musical highlight! A special mention applies to the fantastic lead vocals of Ian Alexander Griffiths. On the entire album his singing − sometimes in the vein of Michael Sadler (Saga) − is just outstanding and lifts the music to a high standard.
Falling Asleep will be presented during a concert of Ter'Azur with video projections and other effects. Hopefully I'll get the chance to witness the band someday in The Netherlands. I would like to see how such an outstanding album comes alive on stage. The musicians of Ter'Azur can be very proud of their first musical effort. The concept is of an international level and deserves the maximum rating of five stars. Highly recommended to all devotees of prog rock especially those who enjoy Dream Theater, Pink Floyd or RPWL. Well done, guys!
***** Henri Strik (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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